BY ANDREW ZERMAN
Kenosha Police Department officers shot Jacob Blake, an unarmed Black man, seven times in the back as he walked away from an altercation he had been attempting to break up on Aug. 23, adding further tension to relations among minority communities and law enforcers.
The NBA, of which approximately 81% of players are Black, was the first professional sports league to take action.
Coming into Orlando in July, the NBA made noticeable modifications to support racial justice issues. “Black Lives Matter” was painted on both sides of every court. Players are also allowed to have messages or words on their jersey instead of their last name.
Some players have questioned if the league is doing enough. Among those unhappy with the inaction of the league was George Hill of the Milwaukee Bucks.
“First of all, we shouldn’t have come into this damn place to be honest,” he said in an ESPN video conference call. “I think coming here (to Orlando) just took all the focal points off of what the issues are, but we’re here, so it is what it is”.
On Aug. 26, the Milwaukee Bucks refused to leave their locker room to play the Orlando Magic in what could have been a series-clinching game. Shortly afterward the NBA released a joint statement on social media postponing the three games scheduled for that day.
Later that day, a meeting for the players and owners took place. ESPN sources described it as “heated” and “emotional,” with one report going as far as to say that “the season is in jeopardy.”
The ultimate consensus was to continue the season on Aug. 29 with changes to support social justice issues. The NBA and the National Basketball Players Association released the following a joint statement on Aug. 28:
“In every city where the league franchise owns and controls the arena property, team governors will continue to work with local elections officials to turn the facility into a voting location for the 2020 general election to allow for a safe in-person voting option for communities vulnerable to COVID.”